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They are a metal institution in need of no introduction. For the benefit of those who may be surfing through their first digital pages in the corner of cyberspace earmarked for metal, though, it can be said that Sepultura is one of the most important and innovative bands in the history of heavy metal. Rising from their modest roots in Brazil, they were born as a primitive, almost black metal flavored death-thrash outfit. Sepultura's ambition and incredible talent has since seen the cohesive unit successfully and seamlessly cross-pollinate death metal, thrash metal, mainstream metal, hardcore, punk and even tribal influences into a distinct metal powerhouse that is continuing to destroy musical boundaries and open minds with its socially conscious outlook. In this interview conducted for Pit Magazine, Derrick Green, the band's hulking front man, discussed their latest effort 'Roorback'.

PIT: Y'all aren't playing shows already, are you?

DERRICK GREEN: No. Not yet. We're getting ready to go to Brazil, and then we're going to do some shows in South Africa. Then back to Brazil to do four shows with the Hellacopters and Deep Purple. It's pretty fucking crazy.

PIT: That's a diverse lineup.

DG: Very diverse. (laughs) Only in Brazil something like that can happen.

PIT: The fans there seem really open-minded. They don't mind diverse lineups.

DG: Definitely. That's one thing about Sepultura in general. It's about being very open-minded.

PIT: I bet you were pretty nervous about having a deal secured abroad, yet the US is one of the major markets and you had no record deal.

DG: Well, Europe has always been really good for us, and a lot of other bands aren't really able to tour the world as much as we are and have a really good following. So, for the US we weren't really that worried. The one thing that we were concerned about was coming here with something really new, and not just do the same tour that we've done before. So, pretty much getting the right bands to go out with or go out with us, and just keep things really fresh here - go for a different angle in the US. Things are very different here now.

PIT: What made you choose to sign on with SPV in the US?

DG: Well, the thing is, we were going through a lot of labels, seeing what they had to offer. And most of the labels wanted to pretty much take the rights to our music forever! Most major labels do that when you sign on. You see a lot of bands that are like, "Oh, we got a record deal with Columbia," or something. But they end up signing their entire catalogue, their whole rights over to the record label. And that's something that we didn't want to do at all. And at this time in our career, it just doesn't make any sense to do that. So with SPV we have so much more freedom as far as owning our music, and being able to work with the record label where things get done. There's not as much politics involved as far as getting through to people and getting things done. On a big label, you have to go through a lot of different people, and they're always working with like a hundred different bands. So for us, a smaller label, SPV, is great, because now we have this communication with the label to have our ideas come across better than before.

PIT: Is that a part of the reason why you left Roadrunner?

DG: That was like the main reason why we left. They were looking so much in the past, really not going forward with what we wanted to do. Then we pretty much had a chance to get out. It was the last album on that contract, so it ended. We were like, "Okay, see you guys later. Have fun. We're going to do our thing." It's the best thing we could have done.

Sepultura vocalist Derrick Green

PIT: Do you ever run into any of the guys that you've played in bands with before?

DG: Yea. Yea. I'm still friends with everyone that I played in bands with before. They're all working on different stuff, and it's cool. We've had these friendships since we were like 14 years old. So it will always stay.

PIT: The limited edition of the new CD includes 'Revolusongs', the recent EP of covers. Listening to the EP makes me think that you chose songs that people wouldn't expect Sepultura to be covering.

DG: Yea. That was the main reason, but also because they're really challenging. For us to do a metal cover is the easiest thing to do. That's what we play: very heavy music. So for us it was more interesting to do something with bands that really influenced us, that revolutionized the way that we hear music. We didn't want to limit ourselves to just straight up metal bands. We did a wide variety, and it was cool to challenge ourselves to do something different, like U2 or Massive Attack. I think they turned out pretty cool. I know that playing them live has been a great response. People are not expecting it at all, but once they hear it they're like, "Wow! It's totally different." It was a lot of fun to do.

PIT: Was there any song in particular that you or the entire band found to be incredibly difficult to pull off from the get go?

DG: No. That was the really cool thing about doing the EP. Everything flowed really well. We did that and then we went right into writing 'Roorback'. We had a lot of time to get to be with each other, as far as knowing each other and communicating a lot more, because I live in Brazil. Everyone lives there. We had a lot of time off, and we had done so many shows in the past together. So it's really coming together. We're growing together and gelling together as a tighter band. So it was easy to do the songs because we all love the bands that we picked. It really wasn't that difficult.

PIT: How is life in Brazil treating you?

DG: It's pretty amazing. I'd have to say that the people there are incredible. From the first day that I went there it's just been non stop support. I mean, people are huge Sepultura fanatics there. They really see the band as a whole. They never saw the band as one person or anything like that. They always see it as a group, and they have a lot of respect for it. And they're proud that Sepultura is able to represent Brazil to the rest of the world. People come up - and not just people who like heavy music - even relatives of kids who like the music, they come up and say stuff that's really awesome. They even try to speak English a lot of times. I've only had good things, good vibes from being there. So for me, it's like my new home, really. I love living there. It's a great place.

PIT: Concerning the Freddy Vs. Jason soundtrack, you worked with the band's old friend, Mike Patton.

DG: What happens a lot of times is that a label, like Roadrunner, they dig into a lot of the old songs. And that song was one that we did on the 'Against' album - it was like a B-side. It was already a song that we had. It wasn't written for the movie. They always pick crummy movies to put your music on. (laughs) They have a knack for doing that.

PIT: What? You're not looking forward to it? I'm curious and eager myself.

DG: In a funny way I could see the movie itself becoming big which would be hilarious. I love movies, but I like good movies. (laughs) It's weird because we started doing a soundtrack for a movie that's coming out in Brazil - actually composing it - so it's a little more interesting to do it that way, instead of having a song and then just throwing it on the soundtrack.

PIT: Personally, I'm east Indian, and while the heavy music scene's demographics are changing, I have encountered a bigot or two along the way. So that makes me wonder, have you ever run into any problems whatsoever in this music scene simply because you're black?

DG: Not at our shows, really, because a lot of people really know what we're about with the type of music that we play and the songs that we write about. So they're not really coming to the shows to be like, "Holy shit! There's a black guy in the band!" But I'm sure that it affects the band in some ways as far as people saying, "I'm not going to go see them." Now that's fucked up, but I'm sure there are people like that. I wouldn't doubt it. But that's going to happen in anything.

PIT: . . . in any walk of life.

DG: Yea. It's a matter of doing what you have to do regardless of what people are going to say. I mean, that's the whole reason that I got into hardcore music at the very beginning when I was 14. Because there weren't any color boundaries in the lyrics or about being different. So I really fit into that scene. And I definitely take that with me, playing in these different venues and playing with Sepultura.

PIT: Speaking of your hardcore roots, what specific bands did you like? And were there any metal bands that you liked when you were younger?

DG: Well that's funny because there were only a few metal bands that I liked. There was Celtic Frost, Venom and Metallica. A lot of the hardcore bands that I liked were like Minor Threat, Cromags, Sick Of It All, Agnostic Front, Negative Approach, Youth Of Today. I didn't drink beer until I was like 19 or so. I was pretty straight edge as a kid in high school. I really liked the energy of those types of bands. And it was incredible to go to all those shows, like Bad Brains and stuff like that, and to be able to see them in their prime was amazing. And I got to play with a lot of bands that I really idolized at the time, so it was a great experience for me.

PIT: What do you think of today's heavy music scene, metal or hardcore? What excites you?

DG:There's a lot of bands that are out there. You've just got to really dig. There's a band called Mastodon that's really great that I saw play in Belgium at a festival. There's a few bands that we saw on tour: Hope Conspiracy, Every Time I Die. There are new hardcore bands that are fucking great. Converge, man! (laughs) There's so many new crazy bands. . . Isis. It's pretty exciting for me, because I've been in Brazil for so long. And coming back I just started recognizing these bands and thinking, "Thank God it's not dead!"

PIT: Do you like The Dillinger Escape Plan?

DG: I love them. I think they're great. Definitely.

Sepultura - Roorback CD cover

PIT: In the past, if you look at every Sepultura album, every album is different from each other, yet they do take a wink back at the previous releases. With this album, did you sit down and almost write. . . is it a goal to write an album that's different than the previous album?

DG: Actually I think it really happens naturally. It's definitely on our minds that we don't want to do anything from the previous album. We don't want to try to make the album that we've already made before that. It just happens naturally. As musicians you get influenced by different things around you, different music, and different things happen to you from the time period of the previous album to now. As musicians we want to get better at what we do and really push ourselves.

PIT: Now 'Nation' was obviously somewhat of a concept touching upon the ideal aspects of what life can be. In today's world, how do you view the world as falling short of that standard, and how is it addressed on this album?

DG: Well, I think on this album there's definitely a lot more aggression that's coming through. Whereas on 'Nation' I think the approach was the complete opposite of having the idea that humanity can do something for itself to make itself better. I truly believe that still, but I think in the time period that we're in it's definitely pretty hectic and scary for a lot of people. People are just in complete fear, and there's good reason to be. This country has a lot of problems, a lot of things going on. And the world itself - the politics are pretty intense out there, especially now with the US government, where people are blatantly doing whatever the hell they want and nobody really cares. Nobody's really touching what's going on. They're just sort of letting it happen. So these guys who are in power right now, the whole Bush administration, are pretty much doing what they want to do. They're just raping the entire country of tons of money. They're just looting it. And they're being blatant about it. And that's what the scary thing is. A lot of people are hooked up with American Idol, and they want to watch reality TV. They're fixated on that, but they aren't watching what's really going on. It's interesting because I definitely have a different view from being on the outside and living on the outside, seeing the news, and reading a lot of different books and publications that weren't able to be published here just for the fact that these major companies that run all the media and everything wouldn't run them because they wouldn't make any money. There's a lot of risk, and it's too much for them. So in my head, I'm really upset with the way things are going here. But I really want to express that and the anger in the music that we do, and really not try to persuade people to pick sides, like Republican or Democrat, but just really think about what's going on, and really try to understand what's happening.

PIT: Do you think that the public is at fault for not being aware due to its complacency, or is it more that the government is being too controlling?

DG: Actually, the government itself is almost a corporation of many different corporations. These people that are in power have these different corporations or are CEOs of different corporations. It all just comes back to putting a lot of people in fear and trying to get them to consume. So when you have everybody in fear, they're like "We'll provide you with safety. We have code orange alert," and bullshit like that. And people start to believe that. They're like, "It's code orange. We have to duct tape the windows." And that shit works. It gets people totally afraid. And if anyone speaks out, it's just like, "Oh, they're a traitor!" It's the same thing that the Nazis did. "This guy's a traitor because he's not patriotic, and he doesn't believe in what we're talking about." It's totally ridiculous, but it's true. And these commercials are nonstop running, trying to sell you tons of shit constantly in between this media blitz of fear. It's insane. Consume. Consume. Fear. Fear. And it's going to end up exploding in people's faces after a while, because people don't have the money to consume anything. People aren't working. They're out of jobs. That's a big problem, and people are going to realize, "Wait a minute. How come I'm out of a job?" These are real issues that are happening in the US, not "Let's go to Iraq." It makes some other people rich in our government. People are going to start to realize this when they're out of a job, when they realize there's no retirement, or things like that - things that really hit home. But now we see the fixation of American Idol and all that bullshit TV that's on MTV and the rest of it. People eat that up.

PIT: I couldn't agree with you more, my friend. How do you think Sepultura has changed by having you in the band?

DG: I think vocally things have changed - definitely musically - because of the fact that we have the ability to do a lot of different stuff now. Before, it was very one dimensional as far as vocals go. They weren't able to do songs like these covers, or songs with a melody in the vocals or something like that. Now it opens up a whole new gate for us to work and do something really creative where people don't get burned out from the same screaming and yelling throughout a song. We can venture and do different things and have that intensity of Sepultura. Creating different moods in a song makes it a little more interesting. And for me, it would also be cool for us to work on more soundtrack type stuff - to actually score music for a movie. Possibly we could do that. I think with me as the front man, we have that option of doing various things that don't necessarily have to do with just screaming.

PIT: And Andreas has his classical background to draw from.

DG: Exactly! And that makes it all the more powerful. With that background and also with Igor being able to play any type of music, it really adds to our potential.

PIT: Did you play any guitar on this release?

DG: Yeah. That's one thing that I really got into. I was just picking it up, writing riffs and showing them to Andreas to fix up here and there. So now when we play, I play a lot of the new songs on guitar. That's something different with the new live show. I don't want to play the whole show. I like definitely changing it up.

PIT: Do you play any of the older songs?

DG: DG: Yeah. I play a few of the really old songs like "Troops Of Doom" and stuff like "We Who Are (Not As Others)".

PIT: Going back to the war on terrorism, and keeping in mind the perspective in Brazil, and wherever you've been doing shows or have just been speaking with people internationally, how does the rest of the world see the US right now in the way that they're dealing with the events that stemmed from September 11th?

DG: I think they see it as definitely a country that is in fear. And, actually, a lot of people are like, "Wow! They get what they deserve. They're like the Pimps of Shirlong of the world," just being this superpower and going in and fucking shit up in a lot of other countries. And a lot of people are like, "Damn! They get what they deserve." That's what I think a lot of people view on the outside. And they see how ridiculous our government is. They also see it in a warped sense that all the people really wanted George Bush to be in power, and that we all agree with him. But the only thing they're seeing is what the media is portraying from here. I can't believe that there are people, some people, in America saying, "Yea! Let's get some oil. Let's bomb whoever we have to!" They get the dumb people of America on TV. And then people think, "Oh, that's all Americans. They all think the same way." And that's a warped perception of what America is. It's not just those people. And a lot of people on the outside feel that we're 100% behind George Bush and what he's doing. That's not the case.

PIT: What does Sepultura mean to you?

DG: For me, it's almost like a way of life: to really do what you want to do - to really live your life to the fullest and not hold back anything. I definitely try to do that every day. Really, just keep searching for new things constantly. Search for knowledge and just make a better person of yourself in whatever you do.

Sepultura band photo


review of Sepultura 'Roorback'

review of Sepultura 'Nation'

review of Sepultura 'Arise'







an abbreviated version of this interview appears in:


Interview: Jay Gorania [ ]
MU Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
Webmaster: Sean Jennings [ ]

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